Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Why the Best Path to a Low-Carbon Future is Not Wind or Solar Power

An absolutely terrific Brookings Institute blog post by Charles Frank.
Frank looks at generation technologies to replace coal, apparently by valuing both capacity costs, and energy generation costs. Readers of my work will know why I have high regard for Frank's - a separate accounting of capacity costs was something I used in my work communicating on Ontario's Long-term energy planning.

Why the Best Path to a Low-Carbon Future is Not Wind or Solar Power | Brookings
5. What does this paper have for policymakers interested in reducing carbon dioxide emissions at a reasonable cost?
First, renewable incentives that are biased in favor of wind and solar and biased against large-scale hydro, nuclear and gas combined cycle are a very expensive and inefficient way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Second, renewable incentives in the absence of a suitably high carbon dioxide price are even less effective...
Third, renewable incentives should be based not on output of renewable energy but on the reduction in CO2 emissions by renewable energy. They are not the same thing.
Fourth, a carbon price is far more effective in reducing carbon emissions precisely...
Fifth, the benefits of a natural gas combined cycle plant are not dependent on the natural gas fracking revolution in the United States...
Sixth, even though the electricity sector accounts for only 40 percent of worldwide carbon emissions, cleaner electricity can reduce CO2 emissions in other sectors, for example by reducing the carbon footprint of electric vehicles and home heating.
Finally, the electricity sector offers one of the simplest and most cost effective ways of reducing carbon dioxide emissions...
Read the entire article at Brookings

My original content blog entry communicating specifically on the need for a more complex costing of generation options is The Real High Price of Low-Value Electricity

The Brookings post material is derived from a paper by Charles R. Frank, Jr., THE NET BENEFITS OF LOW AND NO-CARBON ELECTRICITY TECHNOLOGIES (.pdf)

2 wish list items:

  • hopefully the full paper (which I've not yet read) notes hydro is site specific - a lot of jurisdictions have no hydro option and the price varies widely in others.
  • it may be useful to see the assumed price on carbon that would make each technology competitive with natural gas - in addition to Frank's methodology of showing the varioius prices assuming certain carbon prices.

No comments:

Post a Comment